Skip to content

Beloosesky Gallery is interested in purchasing paintings or works on paper by Louisa Matthiasdottir.
Please call (917) 749-4557 or email us at

Louisa Matthíasdóttir (February 20, 1917 – February 26, 2000) was an Icelandic-American painter.

Louisa was born in Reykjavík. She showed artistic ability at an early age, and studied first in Denmark and then under Marcel Gromaire in Paris. Her early paintings, dating from the late 1930s, established her as a leading figure in the Icelandic avant-garde community (many of whom met together in a house in Reykjavík called Unuhús). In these paintings, subjects are painted with a broad brush, emphasizing geometric form. These paintings already show much of the character of Louisa's mature work, but are more subdued in color.

Her move to New York City in 1942 was followed by a period of study under Hans Hofmann, along with other painters including Robert De Niro, Sr. (father of the actor) and Jane Freilicher. In 1944 she married painter Leland Bell, and until Bell's death in 1991 they enjoyed a partnership of mutual support. Louisa's first solo exhibition took place at Jane Street Gallery in New York in 1948. While her work of the 1950s saw her introducing elements of expressionism, from the 1960s until the end of her life she developed and refined the idiom of forthright color, uncluttered composition and brisk execution for which she is best known.

The paintings of Louisa's final three decades include Icelandic landscapes, a series of self-portraits, and tabletop still-life arrangements. The landscapes often include charmingly stylized depictions of Icelandic horses and sheep. She was to remain an Icelandic citizen all her life, the physical characteristics of her native land informing her bold treatment of form and clarity of light. The poet John Ashbery described the result as the "flavor, both mellow and astringent, which no other painter gives us."

Her work was included in the 1973 Whitney Biennial. In 1996, Louisa was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation's Cultural Award, and in 1998 became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She died in Delhi, New York in 2000. Her work is represented in many public collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and the Reykjavík Art Museum.

Biography from the Archvies of AskART and Wikipedia



Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, January 1st 1988
The American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Cultural Award, 1996
Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1998



Albrecht Art Museum, Saint Joseph, Missouri

Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho Art Institute, Idaho
Gerdarsafn, Kopavogur Art Museum,Kopavogur,Iceland
Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art, Hafnarfjordur, Iceland
Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana
The National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Reykjavik Municipal Art Museum, Kjarvalstaðir, Iceland
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, New Jersey
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
Museum Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico
Tate Gallery, London, England
Queens College, City University of New York, Flushing, New York
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina



1948                Jane Street Gallery, N.Y.C, New York
1958                Tanager Gallery, N.Y.C, New York
1960                University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
1960-61           Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, N.Y.C, New York
1964 (Also 1966,1968,1969,1972,1974,1976,1978,1980,1982, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1991)
Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, N.Y.C, New York
1970                Albrecht Art Museum, Saint Joseph, Missouri
1970                Framehouse Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky
1972                Litchfield Art Center, Litchfield, Connecticut
1972                Windham College, Putney, Vermont
1978                University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
1982                Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts
1983                Gross McLeaf Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1987                Gross McLeaf Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1987                Bryggens Museum, Norway
1987                Reynolds/Minor Gallery, Richmond, Virginia
1988                Meredith Long & Company, N.Y.C, New York
1988                Donald Morris Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan
1993                The Reykjavik Municipal Art Museum, Iceland
1994                Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, N.Y.C, New York
1994                “Louisa Matthiasdottir: Paintings,” Donald Morris Gallery, Inc., Birmingham, Michigan
1994                “Louisa Matthiasdottir: Recent Paintings and a Selection of Portrait Busts,
1996                “Seeing and Painting: the Art of Louisa Matthiasdottir”, Kendal Campus Art Gallery of Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, Florida. Traveled to The American University, Washington DC; Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; New York Studio School, New York; Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle, Washington; The Maier Museum of Art in Lynchburg, Virginia; Wright State University Art Gallery, Dayton, Ohio.
1996                “Louisa Matthiasdottir, Paintings: 1930 – 1990’s,” Watkins Gallery, American University, Washington D.C
1997                The Minot Art Center, Norsk Hostfest, North Dakota
1997                The Studio School, N.Y.C, New York
1997                The Maier Museum of Art in Lynchburg, Virginia
1997                The Minot Art Center, Norsk Hostfest, North Dakota
1998                Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, Virginia
1998                Wright State University Art Gallery, Dayton, Ohio
1998                “Louisa Matthiasdottir: Pastels”, Hafnarborg, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
2000                “Louisa Matthiasdottir: Paintings”, Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, N.Y.C, New York
2002                “Flanders Presents Louisa Matthiasdottir”, Flanders Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
2002                “Paintings 1945-1995”, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, Virginia
2003                “From The Studio of Louisa Matthiasdottir”, Hafnarborg, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
2003                “Paintings”, Salander –O’Reilly Galleries, N.Y.C, New York
2003                “Louisa Matthiasdottir,” Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, N.Y.C, New York
2004                “Louisa Matthiasdottir: Landscapes,” Brick Walk Books and Fine Art, West Harford, Connecticut
2004-2006      “Louisa Matthiasdottir: A Retrospective“ Scandinavia House: Nordic Center in America, N.Y. C, Traveled in 2005 to Nordic Embassy Complex, Berlin, Germany; North Atlantic House, Copenhagen, Denmark; Akureryi Art Museum, Akureryi, Iceland.